It seems ridiculous to be reporting on yet another Google algorithm update, but here we are. At this point, figuring out what could be causing rankings shifts is like trying to complete a 4D puzzle. The past few months have now seen a total of seven updates (that we know of) shaking up the search engine results pages (SERPs). Among those seven updates has been two single-day spam update rollouts.
In addition to these spam updates, Google on Wednesday announced the rollout of the Google link spam algorithm update. Unlike the previous two updates, which took overall content into account, this one is specifically designed to identify and nullify link spam more effectively. In Google’s announcement, it specifically uses the word “nullify,” not “penalize,” which means Google’s algorithm will simply ignore spammy links.
Unlike the spam updates before it, this is not a 24-hour rollout: The link spam algorithm update will take two weeks to roll out, meaning it will likely wrap up mere days before the Page Experience update completes its launch. You might remember that back in April, Google released a blog explaining its fight on spam in 2020. And with all these updates, it’s looking to get an even bigger leg up on spam in 2021.
So, what will this update do? Well, for one, Google has said that sites involved in link spam will be re-assessed by the search engine’s algorithms and will see changes on SERPs. If you read between the lines, you’ll notice Google’s announcement suggests that it is specifically targeting links from guest, affiliate and sponsored content.
It’s also interesting to note how Google framed this update in its Search Central blog. Rather than immediately announcing it, the blog first discusses link building best practices then includes a casual reminder for publishers using affiliate programs to qualify these links with rel=”sponsored.” Only then does it announce the update – talk about burying the lede! However, the decision to present the announcement in this convoluted way seems deliberate. It’s clear that Google wants web owners to pay attention to these guidelines on handling links where an exchange of value is involved. And if you’re not, you’re one of the sites getting burned.
While spammy links will be nullified, not penalized, if you’ve been engaged in sketchy practices, this update will feel like a penalty. A sharp drop in rankings may indicate that link spam was helping your site rank well – and this update will change that. Any advice we could give is what site owners already know: Be absolutely certain your links are in accordance with Google’s guidelines, and you should escape this one relatively unscathed.
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Pinterest Is Introducing New Ways for Creators To Earn Money on the Platform: Speaking of links, Pinterest has just announced that it will now allow its users to make money through affiliate links, adding a new way to monetize the platform. The setup is simple: Pinterest users can turn their Idea Pins into shoppable pins. Other users can then click an Idea Pin link and shop the product. When a sale happens, the user that posted the pin will earn a commission. This move makes sense for the platform: Pinterest released data saying that its users are 89 percent more likely to exhibit shopping intent on products tagged in Idea Pins compared to standalone product pins. What’s more, engagement with idea pins is 9X higher. In addition, users creating branded content can now add the brands they partner with to their Idea Pins. Once the brand approves the tag, the pin will display a “paid partnership” label.
Here’s What Google Says About Hyphens in Domain Names: There’s a long-held belief in the SEO world that having keywords in a domain name can improve a site’s rankings. When registering a domain, many site owners will try every possible combination to cram a keyword or two in there. And this is probably the reason a viewer asked John Mueller on a recent Search Central office-hours hangout if choosing a hyphenated domain name is acceptable. Mueller’s answer? “Up to you.” Google’s algorithm doesn’t look for hyphens, nor does it care to. A domain name with hyphens is fine and won’t affect rankings – but Mueller also added that keywords in a domain name are “overrated.” Mueller said Google’s algorithms focus on understanding the overall quality and relevance of a website and doesn’t pay attention to something as small as a domain name. So, when it comes to your domain name, don’t be afraid to get creative!
Mueller Has Explained Why Google Would Remove a Site’s FAQ Rich Results: In the same office-hours hangout, a disgruntled viewer wanted to know why Google had removed all their site’s FAQ rich results from search results. This action, understandably, felt like a punishment or penalty. After all, FAQ rich results are sought-after SERP real estate that allow a website to take up more space in search results, knocking a couple of competitors off the SERP in the process. The viewer in question was confused as to why Google had not alerted them in Search Console before removing their results. Mueller explained that Google doesn’t guarantee rich results and that, because of this, it wouldn’t give a site owner a warning. As for why the result was removed? For one, Google could simply make the decision to scale rich results back or turn them off completely. Or, an algorithm update could result in a site’s content being viewed as less high-quality or relevant over time, prompting its removal from FAQ rich results. Let this serve as yet another reminder that nothing on SERPs is forever.
WordPress or Wix – Here’s Some Help To Choose the Right CMS: With recent algorithm updates like the soon-to-be-complete Page Experience update, the content management system (CMS) you choose has an even bigger impact on your SEO. Just last week, we reported that an upcoming WordPress update could improve a Core Web Vitals metric by up to 33 percent, highlighting the major role the right CMS has the potential to perform in your SEO strategy. So, choosing your CMS is not a decision to be taken lightly. In an article for Search Engine Journal (SEJ), author Adam Heitzman compares the SEO efficacy of WordPress vs. Wix – two of the most popular CMS available. Heitzman lists both the pros and cons of these CMS for SEO in a very detailed argument that should make your decision easier. Ultimately, both WordPress and Wix have plenty of convincing reasons to choose each of them – it all depends on what you’re looking for.
This Fascinating SEO Case Study Is Worth a Read: In a blog published on Thursday, Ahrefs’ Michal Pecánek does a deep dive into Wise.com’s SEO. Formerly known as TransferWise, Wise is a fintech company that has been making waves in the SEO world. Why? The company’s SEO is excellent. Even more impressive is that it moved domains earlier this year, doing this so elegantly that the SEO community took notice. Today, Wise.com sits at around 6.4 organic visits per month. And how the company accomplished this impressive feat is fully investigated in Pecánek’s blog. It’s an intriguing peek into what a well-thought-out SEO strategy looks like and what it can achieve – in fact, it’s inspiring! Check out the blog for a reminder of the power of SEO (and maybe a couple of ideas to include in your own strategy as we head deeper into the second half of the year).
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